Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday. I'm at the age where the day is more about celebrating with loved ones than receiving presents. Good thing too, because nine years ago I got the best birthday present ever --
I had only been working at the county animal shelter for a few weeks when this beautiful German shepherd came in. One of the animal control officers had found him running at large. The dog was dirty and skinny, but had personality to spare. Surprisingly nobody came to claim him. When his hold was up  -- sometime around my birthday -- I brought him home and named him Logan for very nerdy reasons. We had seven great years together. (You can read the rest of his story here.)

I'm running out to have a birthday lunch with friends. What are you doing on this Wordless Wednesday? Why not hop around and see what others are sharing today? TTFN, -- K


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Star Wars Dog Toys

Petco has more Star Wars dog toys. I couldn't resist. What do you expect from a woman who names her dog "Jedi Mind Trick"? I was able to show some restraint and only walked out with a 12" storm trooper squeaky toy. (Seriously, you'd be impressed if you saw what I passed up.) What do you think? -- K

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sepia Snoozing

Three days of dog shows can take it's toll on dogs and handlers alike, especially when you're driving to and from the site everyday. I'm glad it's over. It's taken a good week for us to unpack and unwind. We spent this weekend doing a lot of this:

We sat in the bleachers between shows and Jedi actually took a nap resting his head on the bench. Unfortunately he woke up when Hubby tried to take the picture. I wish I could sleep like that.

It's Sepia Saturday! Hop around and see what others are up to today. -- K

Friday, April 25, 2014

Pet Snack Launcher

We won a couple gift baskets at the Match last week. Inside one was a Pet Snack Launcher. WHAT A BUST! You load small treats into the clear bubble, pull back the launch leaver and have to wiggle the thing just right so that a treat falls into place. (Be careful, the treats can't be too big and you must get them in one at a time.) Then you hit the button. The thing will make a loud, distracting click -- whether or not the treat launches is a crap shoot. Even if it does launch it may fly across the room or it might just tumble out with all the grace of a drunk chick exiting a cab. The dogs were unimpressed. Even my gadget-loving husband was bored after 3 minutes. Seriously, this isn't any better than the Beggin' Party Popper. My advice, save your money and go old school using the underhand toss/catch command combo. -- K

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Be Worthy

This monument is outside the Mexico Café in my hometown of San Bernardino, California. If you love dogs and good Mexican food, why not stop by?

It's Wordless Wednesday (not that you can tell from my post!). Hop around and see what others have to share today. -- K

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Good, The Bad, The Goodies!

What a weekend. I am so glad it's over! I think I bit off more than I could chew with both working the shows and participating in the shows. Sometimes I forget that I'm not in my twenties anymore.
I was sore after our Specialty Shows on Friday. I handed Jedi off to a teenager, Sweetie, for the Match on Saturday. A Match is a practice show (no points) for newer dogs and handlers. Jedi likes Sweetie and she said she could use the practice. She also handled Jedi's mother, Zasha, and half brother, Trump. Sweetie was switching dogs ringside like a pro. So how did they do? Jedi and Sweetie took first place in the class, then took best dog, THEN took best in match! (Zasha took best bitch.) The judge said some very favorable things about Jedi too. I was very proud. And then a bit sad. Maybe all the second place ribbons are saying "It's the handler, not the dog." I need to step up my game if I'm going to be an owner/handler.

Look at those Easter colors. How fitting. Sorry about the picture, Jedi stomped on the ribbons.
Something came up and Jedi didn't take the Temperament Test like I had wanted. I'm a bit disappointed. His mother, brothers and sister all took it and passed. I'm sure he would have passed as well. Hopefully we'll have another chance to take it in the future.

We had a gift basket raffle at the end of the day and I won big. LOOK!

This one is huge and really heavy. It's full of toys and treats and more. And I got this one too:

You can't see it, but there is a treat launcher in the back, along with a couple tug toys and more treats. The dogs are going to be so happy.

Sunday was cold and damp. (Surprise! The weatherman lied.) Our club hosted the Futurity/Maturity shows. This is a special match just for breeders. The way I understand it, breeders nominate their litters before the puppies are whelped (born). The young dogs are shown months later and the money from the nomination fees is split among the winners. I'm pretty sure there's more to it, but I can't find a better explanation anywhere.

Jedi stayed home on Sunday while Hubby and I worked the shows and then broke down the site. Thankfully clean-up went faster than I had expected because we were all tired. Is it wrong to say that I'm glad the shows are over? -- K

P.S. One final picture. Madam President had a photographer ringside taking candid shots. Here's one of me and Jedi. Just ignore random smoking dude.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

25 Years, 47 Dead, and 1 Personal Miracle

I know this is Kelley's Dog Blog, and I always share fun dog-related stuff, especially on Saturdays. But today is a special day and I'm doing something different. Please bear with me. You see, 25 years ago today something horrible happened -- and I missed it. If it weren't for a random decision made by someone I never met my life would have been forever changed. At the time I was annoyed, but now I am eternally grateful. Here's the story of my personal miracle.

Me and my M-14 on patrol in Italy, 1988
In late 1988 I was in the US Navy. I was on the fast track in the male-dominated field of weapons technology. In December of that year my naval career was derailed by a surprise pregnancy. At the same time my new husband (also a sailor) was offered his dream job: Turret Two Center Gun Gun Captain of the USS Iowa. The Navy was not friendly to dual-military families in the 80s so we had a hard decision to make: one of us had to quit to raise that baby.

In January of 1989 I returned to civilian life and started packing up our household to make the move from Mayport, Florida to Norfolk, Virginia. At the last minute my husband received a call from a Senior Chief Reginald Ziegler. The senior chief wanted Hubby to attend a school in San Diego, California for three months before reporting to the Iowa. This required us to put all our stuff in storage and drive across country (and back) in a Camaro as my belly got larger and larger. Hubby was to join the ship in June, a week before it left port for a 6-month Mediterranean cruise. This new plan left me to find a place to live and unpack, alone and 8 months pregnant. Yeah, I grumbled. In fact, I bitched at all the way to California.

The USS Iowa in all her glory
But then tragedy struck. On April 19, 1989, there was explosion on the USS Iowa inside the center gun of turret two. 47 people died, including Senior Chief Ziegler and the Turret Two Center Gun Gun Captain. Had it not been for that last minute change I would have been a 20 year old unemployed, pregnant widow.

The story doesn't end there! When the Iowa pulled back into Norfolk in December of 1989 families of the 47 victims visited the ship and laid a wreath upon the turret. Iowa sailors then gave tours to various family members. Can you guess who Hubby was assigned to escort? Mrs. Ziegler. (I'm not making this up!) She shared that she had MS and was having a hard time with her husband's death. Hubby shared the story of how her husband's arbitrary decision saved his life, and then showed her a picture of our newborn son. They both cried. 

I have a large, framed copy of this on my office
wall. The Captain gave it to my husband when
the ship was decommissioned.
Several weeks later, Hubby was assigned to discreetly remove and dispose of the wreath. He did, but not before pocketing one of the iridescent plastic stars. It's chipped and it's ugly, yet I hang it on my Christmas tree every year in memory of the Iowa 47.

And on this day every year I say a prayer for the families, with an extra one for Mrs. Ziegler. The accident was pre-internet. I have no idea where she is or what became of her. If I did, I would tell her how sorry I am for her loss and how grateful I am for her husband. I would tell her that Hubby and I have been happily married for over 25 years and have two wonderful children. Her husband saved me from the unimaginable grief she had to go through. I feel so blessed; and at the same time I feel so guilty. I hope that Mrs. Ziegler eventually found peace and happiness.

I rarely tell this story because I can't share it without sobbing uncontrollably. Fortunately, I can cry and type at the same time. Thank you for reading this to the end. If you were touched please do a couple things for me:
  1. Say a prayer for the families of the Iowa 47. I know it's been a quarter century since the accident, but I doubt that the pain of their losses will ever completely go away.
  2. Share this post. I would love nothing more than for it to reach the Ziegler family, wherever they are. I don't wish contact, but I would like them to know how indebted my family is to their husband/father/son/brother. He will always hold a special place in our hearts. I hope that brings them a small amount comfort.
OK, enough tears. Fun doggie stuff returns tomorrow. Promise. -- K

P.S. It's Sepia Saturday. Hop around and see what stuff others are sharing today!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Our First Specialty Show

Waiting for our turn in the ring
Isn't he beautiful?
It's been a long day, so I'm going to make this short. (You really only want to see the pictures anyway!) First of all, the rain wasn't as horrible as I feared. We had a couple short downpours, but we were under cover so it didn't affect us any. Most of the day was cool with a light drizzle. Until we got home. It's awful now!)

We saw some gorgeous dogs today. I mean wow. And I saw some really good handlers. I need to step up my game for sure. We pulled two more red ribbons, and I am not complaining!

I was running around like crazy today, both inside and outside the ring. I handed my camera to a 12-year-old and said "Take a million pictures, I'll see what I can do later." She took 377. (Not just of me!) The lighting was bad and I had the wrong setting for the first show, but here are a few from the afternoon show.

Tomorrow is the Temperament Test. I'll share that later. But for now Jedi and I are going to have a light dinner and head off to bed. Later, -- K

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rain, Rain Go Away

Well crap! The German Shepherd Dog Club's shows are this weekend and the weatherman says this is what we have to look forward to:
Fortunately the rings are covered, but staging is going to be crowded. And I don't even want to think about the parking lot. We were definitely hoping for a better forecast. Weather aside, Jedi and I will be busy all weekend.
  • Tomorrow we're showing twice and will be up against 37 other German shepherds -- there are 18 dogs, 18 bitches and two champions competing for Best of Breed this weekend. As I stated last week this will be our last time in the ring for a few months. I hope we end on a good note.
  • Saturday is the Temperament Test. I'm still a little nervous about that. The test will be held in an open field. Lets hope the rain decides to hold off for a bit.
  • Jedi gets to stay at home on Sunday. Hubby and I, however, will be working the Southeast Regional Futurity/Maturity shows. I have never seen one of these before, let alone work one. I'll tell you all about it later.
Normally I'd be a little stressed out right now. Truth is, I'm just too damn tired. I started the day by spending a hour and a half at the DMV renewing my driver's license (ugh). Then I groomed Jedi all by myself this morning: ears, nails, teeth, brushing, washing, conditioning and blowing dry. I've been running errands all day too. [Note to self: next time take an extra day off!] I still need to iron my show clothes, pack my tack box and load up the SUV. Besides our regular show stuff (crate, tack box, cart, leash, show clothes, etc.) we're bringing miscellaneous stuff for the show: coolers, tarps, pooper scooper, buckets, bleach, PA system, pop-up canopy and raffle items . . . oh and the dog. Can't forget him!

Wish us luck. And if you happen to be anywhere near the St. Johns County Fairgrounds stop by and cheer us on, OK? We could use the support. -- K

P.S. I lied. I'm stressed out right now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


It's Training Tips Tuesday! Over the past few decades I've learned that the best way to train dogs (or people for that matter) is to teach to the way the student learns. It's easier than it sounds! What are their motivations -- Food? Toys? Affection? What is the easiest way for them to process the information -- Seeing? Hearing? Doing? What do they already know that you can build upon? How easily do they get frustrated?

Every one of my dogs was different. Pepper was extremely food motivated. She was very smart and picked things up quickly. She was also a bit stubborn and it was difficult to break bad habits. Logan had a strong prey drive. Food meant nothing but a squeaky toy was gold. Logan was a gentle soul and would shut down if you raised your voice.

I'm still trying to figure out Jedi. I often look into Jedi's eyes and wonder what's going on in there. Sometimes I think he's smarter than I am, and sometimes I question whether he's thinking at all! So when I saw an advertisement for Dognition I just knew I was going to do it.

Dognition gives you a profile on you dog based on a series of exercises that you and your dog do together. These games test five separate areas: Empathy, Communication, Cunning, Memory and Reasoning. Jedi's results looked like this:
Dogs are presented various puzzles, then placed into one of nine different profiles based on actions during the games. Jedi was classified as a Socialite. The individual report was 14 pages long -- wow! -- and stated that:
Although Jedi is not as adept at independent problem-solving skills as other dogs, don't jump to any conclusions about his intelligence. Jedi relies on a very specific strategy -- using you and other humans in his pack to get what he wants. Judging from his performance in the social games, we suspect that most of the time this strategy succeeds.

Trust me, I didn't need to pay the $29 fee to be told that! But it was surprising to see how he figured out certain puzzles -- or not. For an additional $9 monthly fee Dognition will send me training tips and activities geared towards Jedi's way of thinking. I'm seriously considering it! (Don't tell Hubby.)

How about you? Think your dog is an Ace, a Maverick, a Charmer? Could he be an Einstein, a Renaissance Dog or a Socialite like Jedi? What about an Expert, a Protodog or a Stargazer? If you test your dog let me know! -- K


Monday, April 14, 2014

Temperament Testing

Hey, how do I get
one of these?!
This Saturday Jedi and I are taking a temperament test. The German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida is flying an official German Shepherd Dog Club of America evaluator in from Virginia to test our dogs. Passing dogs get a title (TC); failing dogs just make a nice donation to the club. I've only seen this test done once in the 9 years I've been with the club, and that was at another club's show in Orlando. I don't know when the test will be offered again so I went ahead and signed Jedi up. The test assesses a dog's reactions to certain situations. Jedi's tests will include:
  • Unusual footing: Jedi will be asked to walk across a tarp and a piece of chain link fencing on the ground. Will he balk?
  • Unusual noises: Someone will rattle a can behind a blind. Another will fire a starter pistol. Will Jedi check it out? Will he cower?
  • Scary umbrella: A large umbrella will be opened at Jedi and then dropped to the ground. Will he spook? Will he recover and investigate the umbrella?
  • Neutral stranger: Someone Jedi doesn't know will walk up to me and have a conversation, ignoring the dog. This one doesn't worry me.
  • Friendly stranger: Another person Jedi doesn't know will come up to us and touch Jedi. THIS one worries me! (Sometimes he's an ass.)
  • Aggressive stranger: Wearing a floppy hat, sunglasses and trench coat, a bat wielding stranger will come up and make "threatening overtures." Will Jedi attempt to protect me?
So what is the evaluator looking for? Below is a description of the ideal GSD temperament according to the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (our parent club and keeper of the breed standard):

        "The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them. It is poised, but when the occasion demands, eager and alert; both fit and willing to serve in its capacity as companion, watchdog, blind leader, herding dog, or guardian, whichever the circumstances may demand. The dog must not be timid, shrinking behind its master or handler; it should not be nervous, looking about or upward with anxious expression or showing nervous reactions, such as tucking of tail, to strange sounds or sights. Lack of confidence under any surroundings is not typical of good character."

No pressure, right? I have NO idea how well Jedi will do. But don't worry, I'll tell you either way. I'm hoping that I can find someone to take pictures too. Anyway, wish us luck! -- K
P.S. Funny story about the gun shots. When I saw the test given last time (about 5 years ago) all the German shepherds turned around and looked to see where the shots came from. The labs, however, all looked up. They were hunting dogs, so they were waiting for the bird to fall.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Changing Courses

Last weekend I showed Jedi at the Greater Orange Park Dog Club all breed shows. Jedi was too old for the 12-18 Month Puppy class by three days, so I showed him in the Open class. He went up against his brother Chili both days and took second place. So we have two more red ribbons to add to our collection. Chili went on to Winners Dog, where he took reserve. Good Boy Chili!

We're showing next weekend as well. The German Shepherd Dog Club of North Florida is holding their specialty shows this Friday. It'll be ALL German shepherds, 38 at last count. I'm trying not to feel intimidated. (It's not working.) Jedi is a late bloomer and we're still waiting for him to fill out. I'm sure all the dogs in Open are going to be mature 2-3 year olds, so we're taking our chances in American Bred class this time. Wish us luck!

This will be our last conformation show until September. (I want to go back to Deland where our show career started!) Jedi needs time to mature, and it's just too hot in Florida to travel in the summer. So what are we going to do, you ask? We're going to work on some obedience and try to get his Canine Good Citizen (CGC) title. We'll still work on stacking and pacing -- heaven know we need work there! -- but I think Jedi is getting bored. Maybe this will shake things up. What do you think? -- K

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sepia Fairy Tale

Remember Fractured Fairy Tales? Am I dating myself again? Anyway, this is my Sepia Fairy Tale.
Me: Oh my, what a big tongue you have.

Jedi: All the better to lick you with! 
Yeah, I think I would have stuck with the wolf. It's Sepia Saturday. Hop around and see what random thoughts others have going on in their heads today. -- K

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What a Difference a Year Makes

These photos were taken a year apart, each time with Jedi on the left.


 I guess since I see him everyday I haven't noticed how big he's gotten. -- K
P.S. It's Wordless Wednesday! Hop around and see what others have to share.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Dieting with My Dog, Part 2

Way back in September of 2012 I reviewed a book called Dieting With My Dog: One Busy Life, Two Full Figures . . . and Unconditional Love. I ordered it because the author, Peggy Frezon, and I had some of the same issues: high blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose combined with a sweet tooth and an aversion to exercise. I said: 
"It's not a bad story, but I wish there were more examples. I know the formula for weight loss: less calories, more exercise. Sometimes I just need things spelled out." 
Peggy listened! She wrote a sequel called The Dieting With My Dog Guide to Weight Loss & Maintenance -- and I bought it. I started reading it, misplaced it, found it and finally finished it. Best of all, I enjoyed it!

The book is divided into five sections: Weight Loss, Diet, Exercise, Maintenance and (my favorite) Resources. Each section is broken down into "YOU" and "YOUR DOG" so you can easily follow along. And just like I needed, things are spelled out: What are good healthy snacks for you and your dog? How do you get started walking with your dog? What kind of things should you pack if hiking with your dog? There are motivational stories as well. The resource section is chock full of web addresses so you can follow up on everything from a BMI calculator to dog food reviews to a free Pooch to 5K training program (oh yes, I'll share that one later). I enjoyed the book. Whether or not I put it into practice . . . I'll keep you updated! -- K

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Kong Wobbler

I bought another puzzle toy and this one is a hit! The Kong Wobbler is Jedi's new favorite toy. The weighted base unscrews and I can put a whole cup of kibble inside. Jedi bats it around and when he gets it just right kibble comes out of the hole on the side. Surprisingly, he doesn't get bored, and will spend 20 minutes getting every piece out.

I like this toy slightly better than the IQ Treat Ball. This toy is larger, holds more, and is easier to fill. The larger hole allows me to use bigger kibble pieces. And since it wobbles instead of rolls, I'm not always retrieving it from under furniture. It cleans nicely too.

So if you're looking for a new interactive toy to entertain your dog, check out the Kong Wobbler. It's Jedi approved. -- K

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Havin' a Ball

How do you make Jedi happy?

Throw the ball!
It's Sepia Saturday! See what happiness others have to share today. -- K

Friday, April 4, 2014

Dog Wash

Jedi and I are back in the ring tomorrow morning. I'm nervous and excited -- and very tired. RK and I spent almost four hours today washing, conditioning, dipping and blow drying Jedi and his brother, Chili. We actually had a method to the madness this time too. Want to see what we learned?

Step 1: Assemble all your stuff in one spot

Look at all that stuff!
RK's nice, big driveway became command central. We had shampoo, conditioner, flea dip (it's that time of year again), ear cleaner, nail clippers, brushes, combs, towels, buckets and cold drinks at the ready. We even had a crate set aside for the dog not being worked on. [Side note: Next time bring sunscreen. My shoulders are really red. ouch!]

Step 2: Set up a washing station

Jedi gets a good scrubbing
We set up two tables this time. The washing table was just the right height to save my back. We could clean ears, clip nails, and scrub away without too much bending and squatting. The boys have done this a few times, so they were cooperative. RK's husband is a regular MacGyver and was able to run warm water to the outside hose. Jedi and Chili were very grateful. 
Step 3: have a separate drying station
Chili gives me a kiss
We set up a second table just for drying. Using the forced air dryer, we were able to blow out each dog in about 20 minutes. Tomorrow morning before we leave Jedi will get a spritz and fluff.

Here's what we're using to get them so pretty:

Isle of Dogs Royal Jelly Shampoo,  Isle of Dogs Light Management Conditioner and Isle of Dogs Isle Hold Styling Mousse. I spend more on Jedi's hair care products than I do on my own!

I've discovered that grooming is a lot easier with the right tools. The first big item we added was a portable grooming table. I LOVE my grooming table.

Just look at the table, not my bad hair
This particular table was not easy to find. It's 26" tall, which is just the right height for me (anything taller and I can't get to Jedi's back). And at 47" it's long enough for a German shepherd to stand comfortably. Most tables I've seen are too tall, too short, or won't hold a 100 pound dog. This table even has a basket underneath to hold all my stuff. My Mom got it from Amazon, but I can't seem to find it now to give you a link. Sorry!
 And my latest grooming product is a forced air dryer. This is like a hair dryer on steroids. 
Boy does this thing blow!
This dryer has a 4 horsepower motor and is surprisingly quiet. It blows through the undercoat all the way to the skin. Not only does it dry the hair, but it fluffs the coat at the same time. Jedi is gorgeous!
OK, enough of the beauty tour. It's now after midnight and I need to be up in 5 hours to finish grooming the dog. I also need to try to make myself look presentable before hitting the road. Wish us luck! -- K

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Happy Face

I've had some difficult times lately, but when things get really rough Jedi always cheers me up. Look at this face? How can you be stressed after seeing that grin?

You gotta love dogs!

This is a blog hop. Jump around and see who/what others are loving today. -- K